Endnote from her daughter Jacqueline
As I approach my 50th year, it is intriguing for me to be able to fill some gaps in my knowledge by editing mum's final work.
I grew up never once hearing my mother say a negative word about Bill, my biological father. If we brought up the topic, she would answer our questions dispassionately but would not elaborate. I never once felt abandoned or that life was anything other than whole. Having witnessed first-hand my friend's disfunctional and violent nuclear family life, I always believed that sometimes it was preferable to have only one parent raise a child.
Bill exited my life before I knew he existed and Ian entered my life when I was 14, so as far as I am concerned, Ian has always been my father. He was wonderfully generous and patient and never once raised his voice to me or anyone. He was incredibly well respected in the community and I felt priviledged to have him call me his daughter and his pride in being a grandfather to my daughter.
I met Bill only once when I was 26 years old and found him to be obnoxious and ignorant. He kept insisting on calling my infant daughter Gordon and would not desist even after I had corrected him several times to Jordan. He had married a filipino woman Judy and had a six year old son Reuben. In my presence he chastised his young son harshly and smacked him across his head. After 20 minutes I left his house and immediately said to my mother "Thank goodness you left him - I can't imagine what I would be like if I had been brought up in that atmosphere."
I abandoned the Kuestler name shortly after this, feeling no connection to my German heritage. It was not until years later, meeting my Uncle Helmut in Germany that I began to feel acceptance. ]
None of mum's three children have managed to sustain a relationship but whether this is a consequence of our upbringing or a factor of the 21st century, I cannot say. Indeed, we do not even speak to each other so it is evident that "family" has not been a high priority in our lives.
Reading and editing this story has given me a greater understanding about the influences which have flowed through mum's life into mine. Some traits (like being a pedantic spelling nazi) I have embraced and some make me cringe. Her early training in spreading the "Truth" explains why, in later life, she felt it acceptable - even necessary - to "preach" her environmental opinions. Same fervour - different message.
One attribute I shall always be grateful for is a love of history and heritage. It has given me enormous pleasure over the years to assist in publishing her books, organising family reunions, meeting new relos, sorting out our complex family tree and being the keeper of stories. Mum drove me nuts with continual amendments - and I really miss her correcting my gaffes.
The other quality passed down from mum I value most highly is the hunger to explore and the insatiable desire to learn and grow through travel. This incurable malady is called Itchy Feet Syndrome and Jordan, being the centre of my universe, has inherited it as well.
Mum was so very proud of all six of her grandchildren, supporting and following their progress in whatever field they chose. And so it is to them that I leave this digital legacy of their heritage - to give them both roots and wings.
Dorothy Bremner 1933 - 2011
By MAUREEN WEBB
IF you were looking for a person to stand beside you, put her hand up to work tirelessly in a voluntary capacity, always find time for causes she believed in - then that person could only be Dorothy Bremner. While Dorothy's character may already have been formed, the illness and subsequent death of her mother showed a Dorothy independent and self reliant in teenage years. Always adventurous, a keen bushwalker and caver, on camping outings she found an enduring love of the Australian bush. Dorothy's teaching career led to different adventurous places.
Her first marriage saw Dorothy and three small children in New Guinea leading to marriage breakdown. Dorothy as exchange teacher and sole parent took the children to England. Fearless and determined she partook of afternoon tea with the Queen mother, and bought a campervan to travel through Britain and Europe, instilling a lifelong love of adventure.
Dorothy's happy marriage to Ian Bremner led to Tomerong and Nowra Australian Plants Society where she was secretary for many years. Her commitment and enjoyment saw Dorothy attend garden visits, weekly bushwalks, propagating days and promoting native plants, both enjoying the group's yearly holiday away.
The native garden at Lady Denman Complex was a favourite project: Ian for some years was co-ordinator and neither of them willingly missed a monthly working bee. Dorothy continued the working bee until recently, when she couldn't contribute physically, she came just for morning tea.
At Lady Denman Heritage Complex, Dorothy gave time unstintingly for over 20 years, serving as secretary on the board, and undertook training and attended workshops and conferences. Dorothy managed the museum shop, transforming it from a fundraising stall, and worked as a guide helping school children love local history. She rarely missed a meeting and was secretary of Illawarra and South Coast Chapter of Museums Australia.
Dorothy worked tirelessly researching and cataloguing objects, photographs and articles. One of the historical committee, or the 'Tuesdays Upstairs Ladies', but never one to stand for errors or second best, Dorothy spoke out when she saw mistakes. Her eye for detail was used to edit publications.
Dorothy and Ian worked to be environmentally sustainable in their Tomerong home. They had a native garden, vegetable garden, solar heating and rainwater tanks, and always recycled. After Ian died and Dorothy moved she ensured all her environmental beliefs were in her new home.
They went old-time dancing, 'cut a rug' as well as any and amazingly, given Dorothy's preference for classical music, loved to jive. Recently, Dorothy couldn't resist the beat of the music and charmed her friends by dancing solo at the World War II Lady Denman exhibition opening.
They both learnt German, and later Dorothy attended the University of Third Age (U3A), enjoying another educational opportunity.
Dorothy Bremner passed away peacefully on Sunday, December 4 with daughter Jacqueline by her side.
Energetic and purposeful, loyal, sometimes unbending, Dorothy Bremner will be missed.
Life of community worker to be celebrated
Dorothy Bremner's fruitful life will be celebrated tomorrow. Mrs Bremner, a long serving community volunteer died on Sunday, December 4 after a short period in palliative care in Sydney.
Her life will be celebrated
tomorrow, Friday December 9 at 2pm at the Lady Denman, in the Long Gallery, followed by a special pictorial presentation in the theatrette.
Afternoon tea will be served in the Long Gallery.
Mrs Bremner was a passionate
Lady Denman volunteer and had co-ordinated the complex's environmental expo for many years. She had been associated with the Lady Denman for over 20 years.
Mrs Bremner served on the board/management committee
for many years to about 2006 and was the board secretary for some years in the 1990s.
Mrs Bremner, until her recent illness, worked every Tuesday with the Historical Committee at the Lady Denman.
She was the Lady Denman Research Officer and handled all inquiries for information.
If an editor was needed to go comb through a piece of work in great detail, Mrs Bremner was that person.
She also worked with the
Australian Plant Society (Nowra Branch) members on the Wirreecoo garden one Thursday every month and was always on duty when the society had a festive day plant stall.
Mrs Bremner's health had declined over the past year or so with a difficult to diagnose condition, variously described as poly neuralgia and vasculitis of the temporal arteries.
A full obituary will appear in Wednesday's South Coast Register.